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4.5 out of 5 stars
Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The timing of the arrival of this book was somewhat uncanny, as it arrived the day after my wife and I had had our first fight in quite a long while (in the past, there have been rough spots). During that fight, uncharacteristically, my wife was really anger with me and lost her temper, screaming and yelling and cursing; that night, she even slept in another room. The next morning my instinct was (fitting of Ms. Lerner observation that we tend toward fight or flight) to be frosty, but I reminded myself that won't change a downward spiral effect; so I tried to be pleasant, but that probably just got me to neutral. Then, a few pages in to Marriage Rules, Lerner wrote (quoting a friend and colleague): "It's just when your partner is being the biggest jerk that you're called upon to be your best self." Now, my wife wasn't really being a jerk (I could understand why she was disappointed in me, even if she was over-reacting [from my vantage point]. But it helped me reset my emotional thermostat and got me excited about Ms. Lerner's new book.

The excitement wasn't because of any big breakthroughs, but because the book offers timeless reminders delivered in an engaging way and illustrated with good vignettes. For example, in Rule #43 in the "Fight Fair" section, she tells about a San Francisco-based couple that fought viciously over just about everything. They seemed to have no control over their attacks on each other -- until a distinguished British professor stayed as a house guest for months, sleeping in the bedroom right next to theirs. Over those months, they were courteous with each other and agreed it was among the best months of their marriage. The point: you have more control than you think.

Not every rule or vignette moved me (for example, her story about communication about sex in Rule #55 seemed a bit too obvious), but the general message in that section "Forget About Normal Sex" is spot on and relieves pressure that can only make things worse in the bedroom. So overall, well recommended, especially if you're looking for a book to keep by your bedside and read a rule or two or few at a time -- and then share the book with your partner.

Other books on marriage to consider: Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition (helpful for looking at the deep underlying patterns that cause disfunction) and The Couple's Survival Workbook: What You Can Do To Reconnect With Your Partner and Make Your Marriage Work (especially helpful if you're really struggling).
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have been married for nearly 34 years. I want to be married at least another 34. I believe marriage is the second greatest gift God has given us, and I want to extract all the joy and beauty available from this special present. I treasure my marriage above all earthly possessions and relationships. I think I know a few things about how to make a marriage work. And yet, do my wife and I descend into stupid, completely preventable, fights? Sure do. Maybe this old dog can learn a few new tricks.

All the other positive reviews here do not require me to write at length. This book is worth reading. Studying. Sharing. There is much in here that it took my wife and me years to figure out; I wish I had read it (and implemented it) 33 years ago. But marriage is a path, not a destination, and the gentle yet consistent advice in here, with a few simple sample responses, is so effective and so adroit that it is hard to imagine anyone reading this who could not enhance his or her marriage. If you want your relationship to be one of the rocks upon which the rest of your life stands, read and savor the advice Dr. Lerner has to offer.

As she says, you don't need all 106 rules. But if you can learn one new thing that re-directs a destructive behavior or salves an exasperating wound, this would be time and money well spent.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
My wife got this book and I picked it up, expecting to scan it briefly and then put it aside. Instead, I got hooked. The stories are easy to read, often witty as well as poignant, and not a word is wasted. Harriet Lerner doesn't give predictable "advice." Instead, she gets inside a couple's tired old patterns and comes up with something new to try--something simple, powerful, and often unexpected that may shift the "dance." Who knew that I would read--and even learn from--a self-help book? I'm here to say that I did and I'm proud!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Harriet Lerner's writing voice is the most loving and comforting of any marriage author I've ever read. Whenever I read her books, I feel as if my adoring grandmother is holding my hand and setting me straight with the love and acceptance that only my grandmother could--until Lerner came along, of course. As a result, Lerner's books provide a sanctuary for the reader, which is quite important as far as marriage improvement goes. Many people pick up marriage books because we feel lost and alone and because we're in pain. The last thing we want when going through such painful emotions is a book that preaches at us, and Lerner's never do. They comfort and they teach. Marriage Rules is exactly as it sounds. It includes 106 simple rules organized within 10 topic areas. It's the kind of book one can read one rule at a time, and it's also the kind of book one can re-read over and over again, as needed. It's a wonderful resource for people on the brink of divorce as well as for reasonably happy couples who want to take things to the next level.

Because I write about relationships, I interview Lerner periodically for various magazine pieces and also for my own marriage site. As a result I can report that she's just as warm and real in person as she is throughout the pages of her books. Often when I interview experts, I gain great insights, but I don't necessarily connect with them on a deep level. Lerner is different. We quickly and easily became friends, and I believe that's how she is with pretty much anyone. She's real, approachable and knows her stuff.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The best part of this book is the tone Ms. Lerner takes - that change can be small, that things change and you can make that change work for you, that relationships are worth saving and worth working at. This was something I remembered from reading Ms. Lerner's other "Dance" books and something I admire about her approach to relationships. The rules in this book are common sense, really, but bear being repeated because often when things are going bad in a relationship, all common sense flies out the window! I particularly liked the first couple of chapters on increasing warmth in the relationship and reducing criticism. I have found these two things to be key to my most rewarding relationships. Other chapters cover such topics as how to listen, how to break up the chase-pursued dynamic, how to fight, how to negotiate regarding sex, how to adjust to having children, how to know and establish boundaries, making step families work, and maintaining relationships with extended family. Overall a very useful book with something for everyone. I liked Ms. Lerner's challenge to find ten rules to practice and see if they don't make a difference.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It is not often that a book filled with advice about marriage is this much fun. The chapters on various hot spots divided into short, pithy comments is so clever and wise that the ideas are easily understandable and actually possible to follow. The chapter on how we talk and listen is particularly inspired and, as in her other books, she helps us look at our own power and accountability and infuses her writing with humor and hope. Don't miss.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book was very helpful for me to see alot of areas that my husband and I need help in our marriage.. He DID NOT read the book, however when I really thought a rule was one that concerned us, I would read the the chapter to him and he WOULD listen and take it to heart as well... This book has helped me change some amazing areas in marriage that I didnt even realize we needed help in....
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I had the privilege of attending Dr. Lerner's seminar and book review about this newwest edition to her many great reads. This book is appropriate, easy to read, and can keep the attention span of a gnat. She is funny, relates to you through her own marriage experiences, and tells you all the things you dont want to hear but KNOW that you should do. My husband read a few chapters of the book prior to us marrying, and his favorite quote is that of a story of children playing in a sandbox.
Two children are playing in a sandbox, while their parents look on; soon, the children get into a fight, and run off their seperate ways. Not too long after, the children are back at it again, playing and tussling in the sandbox, and one parent says to another, "Do you see that, they fought and ran from one another, and now their back playing again, like nothing ever happened" and the other parent says; "Thats because they chose happiness over righteousness".
May I just say that he fell in LOVE with that quote and he will often bring it up to be, and bite HIS own tongue.
This book as another member said, is right on time.
I strongly recommend it to any married couple in a slump or not, and to all the singles who want to get a leg up on the married folk!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was very informative and I realized that I am not insane nor alone. It helped me to see that Marriage is a constant changing vessel and it is important to learn to take the dips in the ride and understand them. Mental life saver!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Practical, constructive, loving and MATURE instruction on how to communicate with the person you love. How to express yourself clearly, how to clarify an issue, how to deal with a spouse who has his or her own communication issues, and what to say and what not to say in the heat of the moment -- and always keep the preservation of the relationship and everyone's dignity intact. A very wise and realistic approach -- I would recommend giving it to every bride (and groom) at a wedding shower. In fact, I think I'm going to start doing just that. I read it after being married for 30 years, and I cringe at the memories of my own immaturity, and feel lucky that my marriage has survived. Turn off the pop culture "advice" and listen to someone who can really tell you how to honor your relationship. If you truly want a strong, loving, respectful relationship, this is the book for you. If you want to get your partner to do it all your way, you're not going to get that from this book, but you need it too. A profound wake-up call.
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